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How to Build an Affinity with your Prospects for Sales Success

how to build an affinity with your prospects

In an article I wrote on my LinkedIn profile last week, I talked about the importance of qualifying the new leads that you find. Without qualifying properly, you will waste an incredible amount of time in sales and get frustrated. Follow the link to read the article and whilst you’re doing that, why don’t we connect on LinkedIn so that I can get to know more about you?

I had lunch with a great friend of mine yesterday who built an incredibly successful business which he sold last year. We have been friends for over 20 years and we joked about the time when he was new into a sales role early in his career and he had his infamous '7-minute meeting'.

He always smiles now about the story of driving for a couple of hours to a meeting which he hadn't qualified properly. The person he was meeting was not the person he thought and didn't have the responsibility to buy the services he was offering.

It became clear after just a few minutes that the meeting was not going anywhere and so 7 minutes after starting the meeting, it ended. All the time wasted as a result of not qualifying effectively!

My friend certainly learned the lesson but if you are to succeed then you have to be precious about the time you spend. Have a look at a video I shared a few weeks ago about how to avoid wasting time in sales.

There is no doubt that if you are to qualify effectively then you need to build an affinity with your prospects initially in order to get good answers to your questions.

At this early stage in the process, both sides are trying to understand if there could be a fit to work together. The prospect wants to get a sense of who you are and whether you’re someone that can be trusted, and you should be wanting to see if they are a person you would feel comfortable in working with.

I always believe that you won't always win the deal in a first meeting or call with a prospect, but you can certainly lose it by not approaching it in the right way!

Here are 6 ways to build an affinity with your prospects which can help you get better results:

1. Be courteous and Polite

When you initially meet the prospect be polite. This could mean opening a door or letting them through a door first or just saying words such as 'thanks for agreeing to meet with me'. Small gestures which show you are thinking about them make a big difference early on.

2. Look into their Eyes and Smile

Someone was said to me 'your energy introduces you before you even speak' and so smile and look happy. It is very hard not to feel some warmth to someone who approaches you with a happy and genuine smile.

3. Use Early Small Talk to get a Sense of who they are as a Person.

I always use the first few words with someone to get a sense of what the person is like and then adjust my approach from this. Are they more quiet and introverted or quite bold and confident? The most successful sales people adjust the way they interact based upon their initial engagement with a prospect.


4. Try to Find a Common Link and Build on it.

The first few moments of any conversation with a new prospect is always interesting but I always try to find a common link with the prospect and build on it. This could be about a previous company that they have worked at or a hobby they have. I will try to ask an initial question and then find a connection that I can build on. It helps to show the prospect that you have some common links and people want to do business with people who are similar to them.

5. Show a Humble Confidence

I always encourage the people I mentor to show a confident approach but one which is also humble. Your prospect wants to feel that you are someone who is strong and able to handle their needs, but no one likes or warms to arrogant people who only want to talk about themselves. Be positive, be confident but show humility by looking at the prospect and listening intently to what they say. 


6. Show Interest in Them

Use questions to ask what is important. This is the final point but probably the key element of any early engagement to build an affinity with your prospects. The first meeting is not about you. It is about them and what is key for them. The first meeting is about listening and not talking. Find out about the prospect, how long they have been in their role, what is key for them. People love to talk about themselves and not only will they warm to you but they will also share snippets which will be vital in the longer term sales process.

I have found that these 6 methods work well for me and allow me to at least get to a point where I can build on the initial meeting.

If, following your initial meeting, your prospect thinks you’re only interested in you or were not a particularly nice person then it’s an uphill struggle to do business with them in the future. Build an affinity with your prospects, qualify effectively and see if there is a fit to work together!

Have a look at my video on what not to do on the first call with a prospect for some further ideas on how to ensure you build a great first impression.

What has worked for you in the past? Share with me the key methods and ways of working you have used to get prospects to love you and what you do!


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James White
James White

James White is the UK’s leading prospect conversion expert. He understands what it takes to convert leads into real business within the modern digital era and what it takes to achieve business success.